It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dos Ojos

For our last day of diving in Mexico, I suggested Dos Ojos. Actually I asked "if Dos Ojos worth doing?" I was pointing out that there are several dive sites that it seems everyone does when they first start cave diving which we have not done (I guess because we didn't train in Mexico). Dos Ojos falls into this category. Kevin said it was "definitely" worth doing. Then Rob asked Kevin if there was any cave dive in Mexico that Kevin thought was not worth doing. Kevin admitted that they are all worth doing at least once, but Dos Ojos is worth doing at least twice. So if Kevin ever tells you that a dive is worth doing, you should realize this has no signaling value whatsoever. But if he says it's worth doing twice, well, maybe that means something. We met up with Don and Kevin at the entrance at 9, and after showing our cave cards (gasp) and paying 100 pesos (which was surprisingly cheap), we headed in. It seemed a bit hotter than it had been, though that may have been because we were not in the shadiest spot. The original plan was to mix up the teams today, but somehow that fell by the wayside. I'm not sure how -- though I mentioned it to Rob and he said he didn't know how to affix his strobe to the sidemount people, so maybe that's why. Anyhoo, in the end, Rob and I dove together. Kevin and Don led us in to "make sure we found the jump" off of the cavern line, though I'm not really sure how we could have missed it. We took the Barbie line to the main (IMAX) line.

We didn't have access to a map with much detail (Kevin claims there isn't one) and as it was described, it didn't sound like there were many options for navigation off the main line, other than the "old" main line, plus a little connector back to the new main line. So as we geared up, I told Rob I was only taking two jump spools (since I knew he would have 3). I can't explain why I did this, except that I was feeling too lazy to stuff another spool into my pocket? Rob had the bright idea to walk our tanks down to one of the tables right by the entrance, then go back up to the car to get dressed. The stairs there are pretty nice, though some of them are a bit tall (or so they seem once you are in doubles) and the middle "flight" of stairs are all sort of leaning downward, which isn't too fun. But there is a handrail which is reasonably sturdy. After getting into our suits, we went for a swim to cool off, then we got into our gear and into the water. We bobbed around for a few minutes while Kevin and Don finished their gear checks, and then we headed in after them. The cavern line starts in open water, but there are (at least) two cavern loops which means (at least) four lines starting in open water on the upstream side (though either of two of them would be the correct line). I was leading the dive, and once we got to the Barbie, Kevin or Don pointed in the direction of the main line and we headed that way (they were heading to the old main line, so we parted at that point). I fished out my 150' spool because the line had been described as pretty far from the cavern line, though I think in reality either of the spools in my pocket would do. By the time we got tied into the main line, it was about 20 minutes into the dive (the cavern line is supposedly about 1500 feet, and the jump is supposedly a little more than halfway, though having not seen the other half of it, I can't be sure about that).

The cave was not that intricately decorated at first, but became quite decorated as we got further in. The passages were all pretty big, some very big. As we followed the mainline, this other parallel line appeared to our right and ran parallel to the main line for a bit. Then it disappeared and eventually appeared again. At that point, Rob suggested we jump over to it, so we did. This was about 40 minutes into the dive, just where the main line was about to take a sharp left. The line we jumped to once again disappeared from site of the mainline and went a bit shallower into a briefly narrower passage. Then it opened up again and there were some cool formations on both sides of the line. Right where it opened up again, we dropped our stages. Maybe 100 feet later, the line once again dipped down, where that room "ended". Rob wanted to take some pictures in that room, so he took the lead, so he could stop us as he found something photo-worthy. We proceeded slowly for the next 5 or 10 minutes, as Rob took pictures. Eventually we came upon another rather green cenote just ahead of us, and the line turned to the left. Two minutes later, we passed a line arrow pointing the way we were heading (the first opposing line arrow we had seen) and it said "Tak Be Ha cavern" or some such thing on it, with a jump to the left. I had never heard of Tak Be Ha before, but a quick google search reveals that it is a cenote in the Mayan Riviera :P

From there we could see another opening up ahead and to the right, which was perhaps the same cenote we had just passed, but the view of it was blocked by a wall in-between -- not sure. We continued until we got to it, and then Rob signaled to turn around (I'm not sure if he thought the line ended or what). So we turned back and took the jump at the "Tak Be Ha" arrow. This line eventually ended, after another 5 or 6 minutes, putting us on the middle of yet another line, which I made an executive decision to go left on. This line also ended after a few more minutes, and this time at the end of the line, we found Kevin and Don's cookies and a jump spool back onto the main line (or some gold line). So I guess this line was the connector from the old to the new main line, or a connector anyway. We jumped to the mainline, using our fifth and final spool :( (what was I thinking bringing only two!?!). Since we were switching order as we came to photo-worthy passages, we kept arriving at jumps and Rob would give me the "after you" signal and make me put the jump in. So lazy... Anyhoo, we headed further up the mainline and got to some really big and nicely decorated passages. Overall I would say this cave had a good mix of small (icicle-type) decorations and big impressive column-type formations. I know Rob is addicted to saltwater passages, but I think he got some of his best pictures of the trip at Dos Ojos. After about 10 minutes, I turned the dive on sore feet :) Friggin' jet fins.

Since we still had an insane amount of gas left (with the 17 foot average depth, one stage can give you a looong dive), we took our time on the exit and Rob took more pictures. On at least two of the jumps, as I was pulling the spool, Rob was hunkered down in front of our cookies, taking pictures of me pulling the spool. In my head, I was thinking the caption for the picture should be "diver pulling a spool without ANY help from buddy". Not that I need help, but it's just polite to pull ties, ya know? When we finally made it back to our stage bottles, I was totally relieved to take a swig from Rob's camelbak. I was so thirsty! Rob took a few pictures in that area right after we picked up our bottles, but pretty much from that point out, we were just heading out. My feet were killing me, so I was looking forward to popping my fins off :) I briefly considered doing it when we got to the other eye on the cavern line, but decided to suck it up!

Once we got out, we decided to break down our gear (completely, boohoo) and pack up the car before going for a swim. I guess we were pretty efficient about doing this, because we managed to go for a swim (brrr) and were waiting in the water a little while before Kevin and Don appeared. We agreed to meet up at ZG in a little bit and then headed down to Tulum for one last empanada (or in my case, three) before heading home. The guys were like kids in a candy store at ZG, because there were a bunch of new cave maps on sale there. They are such dorks.

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